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Ratanikkiri crackdown nets 700 logs, zero loggers

Officials pose for a photograph after a timber bust leading to the recovery of over 700 logs in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday. Photo supplied
Officials pose for a photograph after a timber bust leading to the recovery of over 700 logs in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary yesterday. Photo supplied

Ratanikkiri crackdown nets 700 logs, zero loggers

More than 700 logs, many of them luxury timber, were discovered in Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratanikkiri province on Sunday, according to local military police, though the loggers were nowhere in sight.

Military police and rangers from the Ministry of Environment discovered the wood during a joint patrol of Lumphat district, said district deputy military police commander Chan Sakal.

“Four hundred and two pieces of timber … were discovered at the sanctuary. But it is not clear whether they were logged there or not,” Sakal said. “The timber was hidden and the owner wasn’t present.”

A day earlier, provincial forces found 308 pieces of second-grade logged timber in the same sanctuary, but the loggers were again absent.

Sovan Bunthai, provincial representative of rights group Licadho, said culprits often disappear undetected because they have ties to local officials.

District governor Nou The yesterday confirmed that police had handed the evidence to the Ministry of Environment for investigation, but refused to comment on whether he suspects the company from a nearby economic land concession was involved in the logging.

Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap said his ministry is working to toughen law enforcement throughout the country.

“People who have information about a crime should file a complaint so we can take legal action,” he said.

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